People struggling with depression are bombarded with all kinds of unsolicited advice, the most common of which is, hands-down, “Get some exercise! (It gives you endorphins!)” All of us who have struggled with depression or burnout know the answer to that is “easier said than done!” Even if you can find the time to get some movement in your daily routine, where do you find the motivation when sitting on the sofa scrolling through your phone sounds easier and more gratifying?
Not taking care of our physical health is a common way many of us sabotage our mental health. Find motivation to move your body by making it easier. Instead of committing to an hour workout, commit to ten minutes. If you can’t bring yourself to do a full yoga flow, do some chair yoga or take a few seconds to get a nice stretch. Here are some other ways to sneak exercise into your day:
Exercise While Brushing Your Teeth
This is something I started doing during COVID-19 quarantine and it has been a game changer. I have an electric toothbrush that shuts off after 2 minutes, so I use that time to multitask. For two straight minutes, you can do any of the below moves:
- Calf raises
Two minutes of any of these is harder than it sounds! I will admit that it felt a little ridiculous at first and my husband never hesitates to laugh at me while I do this. Naturally, be mindful of how much toothpaste you use so you don’t make a mess, and be careful not to trip and fall and poke your eye out with a toothbrush, but I can confidently say that I am as clumsy as they come and I haven’t had any problems so far.
Do 1 Minute Exercises Every Hour
This is a “fun” (bear with me) way to break up your day. If you work with a team, it can even be a challenge you all do together. Every 60 minutes, do an exercise for 60 seconds. It can be any of the above exercises that can be done while brushing your teeth, but also:
- Jumping Jacks
- Side planks
- Push-ups (if you’re ambitious)
- Bicep curls with free weights or with full water bottles/cans
- Leg lifts
Yes, do that thing that used to drive your parents crazy at the dinner table. Wiggle your toes. Quickly kick your feet up and down. One of my favorite “fidgets” can also help you if you’re falling asleep during a meeting: tense your abdominal muscles for 3-5 seconds at a time. Easy-peasy.
Stand During Phone Calls
They say sitting is the new smoking. If you’re stuck on a conference call, consider standing, or walking. This is, of course, not feasible for everyone, as it can draw unwanted attention in an office setting which can increase anxiety. But, those of you working from home may be able to partake!